10/27/06 — Duplin County murderer becoming eligible for parole

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Duplin County murderer becoming eligible for parole

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 27, 2006 1:50 PM

A man who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in Duplin County on Aug. 6, 1991, has just entered a program that could allow him to be paroled by Oct. 12, 2009.

Hubert Aycock, 45, was convicted in the 1990 Christmas Day murder of Juan Antonio Cruz Cotto.

According to evidence presented by the state, Cotto, a 38-year-old Hispanic migrant worker in Duplin County, was found lying dead in his apartment. A bloody knife was found just a few feet away from Cotto's body.

Cotto suffered numerous stab wounds to the chest and neck as well as head trauma. He had a blood alcohol level of .21.

A friend of Aycock testified that the defendant had believed Cotto was having an affair with his girlfriend and went to his apartment with the intent to get him drunk and rob him. Instead, Aycock struck Cotto in the back of the head and stabbed him.

Aycock then stole $200 and returned the next day for a radio, television, stereo and a .38-caliber handgun, all of which he later tried to sell.

Aycock was originally charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded down to second-degree murder.

However, because he was sentenced under the state's old fair sentencing guidelines, he has now become eligible for parole.

"Life at that time may not have meant life in all cases," Assistant Duplin County District Attorney Ernie Lee said.

Aycock's parole will be granted if he successfully completes the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, which is scholastic and vocational in nature, by Oct. 12, 2009.

"This year, he was recommended for participation in the MAAP program, which is basically an education program that prepares inmates for release," N.C. parole administrator Patsy Joiner said.

Participation in the program requires the inmate to sign a contract, agreeing to follow certain stipulations that have been laid out for him. He must participate in a specific number of scholastic and vocational programs and must not have any infractions.

"It's an extremely successful program," Ms. Joiner said. "It's a very structured program. Once you get into the program, you really have to follow the rules."

Aycock, like other inmates, qualified for the program based on his time served, his involvement in other education and vocational programs, his lack of infractions and a recommendation from his case manager.

The DA's office, however, does not want to see Aycock released and opposes his participation in this program.

"Our office continues to oppose the early release of this defendant. He received a life sentence and we contend he should remain in prison," Lee said.